Predicting how Derrick Rose’s knees will respond come December or the playoffs based on the sample of a couple Team USA scrimmages or one World Cup back-to-back is exactly why the phrase “small sample size theater” was invented. We don’t have nearly enough information yet. We don’t know.
All we really know is he’s shown flashes of his vintage self, then there was Sunday’s game against Turkey — Rose’s first back-to-back since about Thanksgiving — and he wasn’t as aggressive or explosive. Too early to draw broad conclusions from either one of those yet, but they are out there.
Of course, Rose says he’s fine. What else would you expect? Here are the latest Rose quotes via Marc Stein of ESPN direct from Spain.
“I’m just trying to put that behind me,” Rose said of any trepidation he’s feeling as he ramps up his comeback from the two devastating injuries that limited him to 10 games over the past two seasons with the Bulls.
“I know the questions are going to come and they’re going to be there the whole year. So I can’t get tired of it. I’m feeling good right now. Just trying to get in better shape, get in better condition, so that when I do need to score the ball, then it’ll be there.”
If Rose thinks he’s sick of answering these questions now, wait until January when they keep coming in every city on every road trip (not to mention at the United Center).
There is a mental side here — talk to any athlete in any sport coming back from a serious leg injury (or injuries) and he/she will say that really trusting that leg and just reacting without hesitation takes a little time. But there are physical concerns too, legitimate ones.
The USA starting Tuesday has three games in three days — New Zealand, Dominican Republic, Ukraine — which is even a bigger test for Rose’s knee. These should be easy wins for the USA, does Rose get a night off?
But at the end of the day for Bulls (and Rose) fans, all you really want out of the World Cup is for Rose to shake off the rust, work through some of the natural pain and issues of a return, then just get back in the game ready to hit the ground running when camp opens.
Frankly, if you’re a fan of basketball you should be rooting for that — the NBA is far more fun to watch when vintage Rose is doing his thing. (Cavaliers fans, you can have an out here.)